New measures: What Belgium’s Consultative Committee will discuss tomorrow
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New measures: What Belgium’s Consultative Committee will discuss tomorrow

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke. Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Consultative Committee, which has replaced the previous government’s National Security Council, will meet on Friday to discuss additional measures against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Besides the launch of promised federal “coronavirus barometer,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will likely also announce stricter measures on Friday. Despite only having introduced new measures last week, he told the House on Thursday that “necessary extra measures will be taken quickly.”

While Belgium’s coronavirus infections figures continue to soar, calls to follow the neighbouring countries’ example and introduce “partial lockdowns” or curfews have been rising in Belgium, but experts have warned not to be “excessive” with possible new rules.

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The epidemic barometer is a colour coded system that is expected to grade the epidemiological situation at a national, provincial and regional level, making it possible to counter the spread of the virus in a more targeted way.

According to De Standaard, the barometer will distinguish between four levels and should make it clear “what specific measures will apply in the various sectors.” It will also show how many close contacts people are allowed to have, depending on the colour.

What still remains unclear, however, is which thresholds the colours will be linked to, and what exactly the different codes will mean.

While the possibility of a (local) curfew for has also been suggested as “a good idea“, more experts seem to be in favour of relatively minor changes, such as making teleworking mandatory instead of recommended, which they say will make a big difference.

The Committee will also discuss the measures in force for the hospitality sector, as currently, different rules apply to bars (which are shut in Brussels, and have to close at 11:00 PM in the rest of the country) than to restaurants (which can remain open until 1:00 AM).

Several experts, including virologist Steven Van Gucht, have already said that they would prefer to see the same rules applied to both branches. Earlier closing times are also a possibility.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times